According to the holy book of laws in India, The Constitution, we all have equal rights in every field. Coming to gender equality, Article 44 of the Indian Constitution reads, “The state shall endeavor to secure for citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.” According to this article, there should be a uniform law for gender equality irrespective of religions and beliefs giving priority to the thing that keeps the world going, humanity and equality among humans irrespective of the gender.
Marriages in India fall under the same category. It doesn’t matter we get married following which religion, but if it doesn’t work in any case there should be a third “neutral” body involved between the spouses for the divorce so that human rights of any of them are not oppressed or violated.
Coming to Muslims of India, when talking of gender equality, there have been enough questions raised against this particular religion. Why do they practice Shariat Law when we have a whole dedicated constitution for every individual in the country? Shariat Law or “Talaq” is a practice in muslims, which gives the “unhappy” husband to break the firm bond of marriage by just uttering the three magical words, “Talaq, Talaq & Talaq”. Like just say the three words and it’s over.
Though many people don’t know but it’s not the only form of divorce which takes place between muslim spouses, but it is one of the four kinds and surely the odd one which has been misused so much that it’s a national issue now.
I don’t comment whether the law is right or wrong but the outcomes of Triple Talaq haven’t been much healthy lately. Those who are literate, care for society and work for making it a better place to live do not make any such mistake, but everyone is not the same. Shariat Law for divorce or the Muslim personal law came into existence in 1937 in India. In 1973, All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) was established as a NGO for preserving the Shariat Law. Personally I am no one to question the minds of the people who made these laws, and none of us are. But we have to question the ‘misuse’ of it.
Starting from the controversial case of ‘Shah Bano Begum’ in 1985, there have been thousands of reports and lawsuits filed against Muslim men for misusing the power of repudiating their spouses. As a result, many women faced shock which they couldn’t overcome from, many committed suicides; many felt oppressed and wanted to raise a voice but were silenced by the society or their own family for the sake of their religious values.
In a sample survey on over 5000 such Muslim women in India, there were around 600 who were divorced without any specific reason, about 100 received it as a surprise as their “Miya” were having an extramarital affair and the new bride would not adjust with the old one, 57 of them received the rejection as a text message and 41 over emails. Now, a person who can break the pure bond of marriage over a text message, has no right to be loved in the first place, marriage isn’t meant for guys like them, Jail is.
The law isn’t wrong, it just gives right to a man against an unfaithful woman, but here lies the irony as the lawmakers who defined this law against “unfaithful women” forgot to define the parameters and a neutral judging body who would be approached in that special case and actually give an unbiased definition of “unfaithful”. This is where the law became biased to men, giving them the power to judge the “faithfulness” of their bride. This is where Shariat became a victim of self-centered and cynical approach giving men more power than women in a fraternity of equals.
When I personally asked a good friend who happens to be a muslim and proud Indian about the law, he told, “We Muslims believe in the seriousness of words. If we can be ready to spend our lives together just by uttering “Qubool Hai” three times, why “Talaq” should be criticized?” To which I replied, “Be it any religion, we register our marriages legally, don’t we?” He further continued, “Yes! We do sign a Nikahnama which is the proof of an Islamic marriage.”
“Then don’t you think people will fear the misuse of talaq if the Nikahnama issuing authority would be approached to judge the right party in a divorce who would give an unbiased opinion so that a woman is not humiliated? This will not even hurt the religious sentiments. But yes, the person heading the body should be well aware of all the laws of Indian constitution.” I concluded and we both agreed.
Leaders of various Islamic parties in India can also be spotted on news saying that muslim women should vote regarding removal of this law or not, which is also a fail. Referendums will take this nowhere. If we take an example (This is just an example and the issues should not be compared), “If Raja Ram Mohan Roy would have asked for a referendum on ‘Sati Pratha’ in Hindus, it could never have been possible to fight for its removal as women feared religion, majority of them would have voted in support of the practice, and it would have existed till now.”
The point of all this is not to hurt any religious sentiment, but in modern India we have to let go of some old practices as people are very self-centered now with respect to the times when these laws were made and they take advantage out of benevolence in people, which was, is and will always be wrong according to the Indian Constitution. This not only gives us the right to question the cynicism disguised in the face of religion of some negative minded people in the society, but also makes amendment in uniform civil code important.
For the sake of humanity, try thinking out of the box. It will not make you any less of a person or someone who doesn’t respect ‘the box’. You’ll not find any damage dealt to a religious sentiment but yes, many lives would be saved, many smiles would be bright and many homes would be happy.